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She was always easy to locate. Her movements were too regular. It put her in danger.

Coffee from the tiny coffee shop on the corner every morning, a block from the sea where she spent hours staring into the waves. She always had a camera with her but she had stopped taking photographs several weeks ago. She just held it in her cold hands while she stared at nothing but the huge expanse of water in front of her.

The sea was wild today and the wind cold and brutal but she stood still as a statue except for her hair. Curls as wild as the sea were whipped around her head by the wind. At times the wind would slow, like it was taking a deep breath before another onslaught, and her hair would fall slowly back onto her shoulders, as if by magic.

Some days she wore a long dress and her skirts would get entangled in her legs, revealing short black boots with tiny laces. On those days he wondered if she was even real, or merely a forgotten shade from another era.

Sometimes her lips moved, spoke words without sound, magical incantations, he imagined, but they never smiled, not even when a friendly passerby murmured a good morning. She would stop to study their face, trying to gauge whether they were a threat or not, sometimes return their good morning in a voice so low, it could barely be heard but mostly she just nodded her head politely and looked away.

He heard her voice once when she didn’t know he was there behind her. She was reciting an unfamiliar poem to a Raven who stood nearby watching her. He was surprised by the soft melodic sound, almost like birdsong, he thought. The memory still haunted him.

He tried to talk to her once, just casual inane chatter, too inane for someone like him with a reputation as a heartless charmer and a reprobate with a gift for words. She watched his face while he spoke. Her eyes were huge but the light had gone out of them a long time ago. He thought she must have been beautiful once. When he stopped talking, she turned, clutching her camera tightly to her chest and walked away with sure, even steps. He didn’t try to talk to her again.

He watched her though, everyday. On his more fanciful days he thought she was the kind of woman he could love, would want to protect from the evils of the world except he was sure the evils of the world had already visited her and took her heart with them when they left.

When he was honest with himself, he knew he was merely another one of those evils. When he was honest with himself he knew if he had half a chance he would capture this sad little bird and keep her for himself, bound to his need just as surely as she was bound to this sea, just as he had done with all his women.

However, he had turned them lose when he became bored and he knew he had left them broken, seeking something they didn’t have a name for, ghosts of their former selves.

He didn’t want that for this one. If she had any heart left to break, he didn’t want to be the one to break it.

But he wanted her. Oh, God, how he wanted her.

She would be easy to abduct.

Unfortunately something about her awakened his conscience. He could abduct her, would abduct her, but only once he was sure he could love her forever, keep her forever, and make her love him, at least a little.

But that time was not now.

So he watched his little bird from the shadows, slowly losing his heart to her and that wild sea which kept her bound and enthralled and heartbroken.

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